Versailles Season 2, Episode 5 – the one with the dead priest

The real Montespan, around 15-17 years old.

Before we start, let us recap where we are in actual historical events, which are very much different to the show and quite an interesting comparison.  Assuming we are mid-to late 1670, these are the facts:

  • Montespan is 30 years old (pushing it a bit by 17th century standards), has been Louis’ mistress for three years and has already borne Louis two children. She also had two children by her husband, the Marquis de Montespan, previous to Louis;
  • Louis is 32 and already lost a lot of hair due to syphilis;Scarron is governess to their two children, living away from the palace. Louis has no interest in these children and actually does not see them until around 1672. In 1673 he legitimises them;
  • Louis performs his dynastic duty with the queen on a weekly basis;
  • Montespan’s husband got wind of the affair and beat her up, bragging about shagging diseased prostitutes so he could infect her, and therefore, infecting the king. So he was banished, then told their children she had died and even held a mock funeral (I would’ve LOVED to see this drama play out in the show. It would have given me much more sympathy for Montespan);
  • Louis had most likely started a fling with Claude de Vin de Oeillets,  a “dark-haired dramatic” girl whose mother was a popular-yet-poor actress. Claude scored a lady-in-waiting gig with Montespan and so became one of those rare rags-to-riches stories;
  • After Montespan had her second child (the future duc de Maine) in 1670, Louis gives Claude a stack of money;
  • Philippe is married to Liselotte;
  • the Chevalier de Lorraine is still in Rome, in exile;
  • We already had the War of Devolution (1667), and the next one is the Franco-Dutch War, in 1672, where Philippe distinguishes himself on the battlefield and raises the ire/jealousy/pettiness of Louis for being more popular than him. And quite possibly because Philippe had songs named after him.

Right, so let us get on to the current episode.

It is raining and Louis is looking out his window as his ministers wait for him to speak, war plans spread out on a table. Louis talks of poisons and the forms they take and how their function is the same. He is highly unsatisfied that the contagion still spreads, that it is in his very walls, and that he does not sleep, is it any wonder when he has no idea of the horrors that await him when he wakes. Then….. oh, then he says, “you have failed me for the last time, Monsieur Marchal,” (LULZ – Darth Vader reference!) points his finger at his Chief of Police and says calmly, “I do not know that man.” And everyone is wtaf??? (sames, people, sames) and Marchal quietly and with great dignity, leaves.

What…. just happened? Who will have Louis’ back now? Who will figure out who the poisoner is??? Bontemps does not have the skill or the stomach for it. THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

So. Much. Uggggggh as the intro plays.

Gaston is walking into Versailles (sans limp) and is stopped by guards. Louis and his entourage walk through the enfilade, through salons and into the grand salon which is actually Vaux le-Vicomte and the same room in which Louis danced deliriously in his nightshirt in S1. The guards bring Gaston in and Bontemps enquires if they should toss him in jail or the nearest ditch. Gaston quickly interrupts, and Louis appears shitty but lets him speak. Gaston kneels for forgiveness. Montespan leans in and whispers something to Louis, who appears to consider it. Bontemps looks worried and I remember in ep2 when Louis told his faithful servant to tell him if a female ever wielded power over him enough to influence his decisions. I know that is what Bontemps is now thinking, moreso when Louis steps forward, says Gaston has his forgiveness and allows the man to kiss his ring. Montespan and Bontemps exchange looks and we can see Bontemps is not at all happy about this. he should be worried. Dammit, Bontemps is one of the few people left who would willingly lay down his life for Louis, and not out of duty.

We are in Marchal’s dungeon/office and Marchal is packing his meagre belongings. Bontemps walks in, expressing his deepest regret. In his usual droll way, Marchal replies, “your sympathy is unnecessary,” But Bontemps continues, “no one has served his Majesty with greater devotion. But I shall not just miss you as a colleague. I shall miss you as a friend.” As we all know by now, Marchal is not a man prone to overt emotion. He offers a word of advice to handle Louis: “The truth, and nothing but the truth,” but Bontemps fears the king is deaf to it all. Marchal replies: “Tell him what he needs to know. Not what he wants to hear. If we are carried all our lives, we will soon forget how to walk.” Yoda Fabien.

Next scene – Gaston at Agathe’s house, where Gaston wonders why Louis allowed him to stay. Agathe says it could be magnanimity, a show of strength. “The winds of power are not constant.” And the way Gaston can repay her is with his loyalty. The court is a ladder, she says, “but opportunity does not shine equally for all.” Which is why she helps her noble clients. And the way he can help her is aligning himself to her good friend Montespan. “The more powerful your friends, the longer you remain up the ladder. As I help you climb, you help me expand my clientele.” From his manner, he is wary of her, and I don’t blame him. She is a little creepy.

Our next stop – Claudine, with our good lady doctor testing out powders and potions on some flesh to see their effects, while Marchal broods at her table. “You shall continue prying… interrogating… hitting people.” She smiles. “It’s not what you do. It’s who you are.” As she experiments, he gives her an almost tender look (as much as Marchal can) and she says, “this poison is like love. It has a mystery ingredient. I do not know yet where it comes from. But I will not stop looking until I find out.” She smiles again. “It is not what I do. It’s who I am.”

I find it fascinating that the two people who Louis pretty much threw out of his palace for ‘failing him’ are STILL working for him. It is partly their inherently curious nature: they both need answers, they thirst for knowledge, they are driven to find the real reason and meaning behind things. But they are also displaying incredible loyalty to their king, despite his shabby treatment of them.

No, don’t smile, Marchal. Don’t be happy. YOU WILL JINX IT.

Claudine is off to treat some prostitutes and they share a little flirting before she leaves:
Claudine: Will I find you here on my return?
Marchal: Do you wish to find me here?
Claudine: You are the detective.

And they smile dreamily at each other then ride off into the sunset together to make babies and live a long happy life (oh, wait NO, THAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT HAPPENS).


what perfectly delicate lace you have. All the better to look fabulous.

We’re back in the palace and Louis talks to Philippe of war (uugghh zzzzzzz) and how Turenne will be at Dutch Land within days. Philippe is in charge of the assault on Maastricht and let us just stop for a second to admire their very fine lace and things….. okay. Philippe is surprised at being given the command and is curious to know why Louis is placing “the entire fate of France” in his hands. They do a little ‘do I have to say it?’ and ‘well, it might be nice to hear it’ back and forth, then Louis says “glory.” Whose glory? “Ours.” As Philippe gives him a look, Louis adds, “It is time for you to carve your name in history.” Philippe, ever-cautious and skeptical, replies, “I was always under the impression that only one of us could win.” Louis replies: “There can be two winners. Providing they are on the same side….. and we are on the same side, aren’t we?”

TFW your brother finally says you can go to war to kill the Dutch

Philippe smiles, and I so would not blame him if he did a little “OMG YESSS” dance because FINALLY Louis is putting his trust in the brother he consistently put down, made powerless and bent to his will. Philippe then says “how are you sleeping?” and Louis doesn’t really know what to say or doesn’t want to answer so he thinks for a moment then replies with a shoulder pat and a, “come. Let us consider the route.” THIS SMILE, RIGHT HERE.

I loved this scene. Despite every worry that Louis has, every doubt, he still trusts Philippe. YAY.

Gaston returns triumphant into the salons and we FINALLY see some proper bowing and greeting of nobles. He saunters over to where Thomas and Sophie are, and Thomas the smarmy little shit corrects him that it is not mademoiselle de Clermont anymore, but duchesse de Cassel. Also Sophie is sooo pretteh and sweet, offering her condolences for Gaston’s mother’s death. I am not sure if Gaston is trolling Sophie about her own mother “looking down on you, happily married” because she JUST finished telling him she was not proud of the title. They talk a bit about marriage, and Sophie clearly lets him know it can be a prison for some, with no means of escape. “There is always means of escape,” Gaston replies lightly. “It is merely a case of… finding it.” And okay, I know where this is going. BINGO. He leans in and murmurs, “I have a friend, who specialises in such matters,” and Sophie looks a little taken aback, then excuses herself.

We are back in a village (Versailles? Paris?) and Claudine is health checking a pregnant prostitute. The woman talks about some kindly father Etienne who gives them money and oh, also takes the babies to an Orphans and Strays Hospital near Saint-Denis because he is just-so-kind. (mhmm. Sure.) And in the saint walks, and omg are they casting all the holy men to look like creepy stalkers on purpose? He assures Claudine the babies are looked after and she is happy but we ALL KNOW a massive clue has been dropped because it just does not feel right. Mainly because of father Etienne’s creepy stalker face, smarmy closeness to a bunch of prostitutes and his breathy, prank caller “we all do what we can” voice.

We return to the palace and Cassel is off to get drunk, and then we see a salon and Louis is playing billiards but it actually looks like croquet on the table. Thomas the ass kisser is all ‘bravo, Sire’ and Louis says there is no strategy in billiards, only tactics. Thomas eludes to the war then pauses, looking pointedly at Montespan, and Louis comes back with “you may speak freely. Madame de Montespan has my trust.” And Thomas replies with: “to have an intelligent woman as one’s council is perhaps the best tactic of all, Sire.” Then he does some more brown-nosing, saying women are men’s equal where strategy is concerned, blah blah. Montespan hardly looks impressed and I do not blame her. She is wise to flattery, subtle or overt. He launches into a ‘Versailles is about power and negotiation and women must negotiate without any power at all’ and SERIOUSLY Montespan claps back with #NOTALLWOMEN (ahahahaaaa!) but Thomas is a wily one and says “your skills may not be visible to most, but they are just as effective.” Oh, Montespan does not trust him (I don’t think she trusts anyone close to the king, tbh). Then Louis says no, he is not going to go to war, he will be staying at Versailles. The look on Thomas’ face… he did not plan for this, innocently asks, “oh who will lead the army, Sire?” Philippe, yessss. Thomas has heard of his ‘great bravery’ in the Spanish Netherlands. Louis replies “he is a master of the battlefield” with no hint of jealousy or sarcasm and this throws me because Season 1 was all about his jealousy of Philippe’s command and how all the French troops respected him.
Thomas: You are a master of war, are you not, Sire? Battles require tactics. War requires a strategy.
Louis: (lightly amused) Are you saying that my brother is also good at billiards?
Thomas: (smiles) I am saying nothing at all, Sire.
Montespan: (dryly) Not from where I’m standing. It is rather surprising how many words are emanating from your mouth. I was rather under the impression that writers were busy writing. Rather than talking.
Thomas: (bowing at Louis) My only wish, Sire, is to chronicle your exploits.
He lightly emphases ‘your’ which I am sure is such a subtle dig at Montespan.

Right, so back now with father Pascal and the queen, and the priest tells her about Montespan’s crotch grabbing, gives her the benefit of the doubt, saying perhaps she wasn’t thinking clearly following the death of the child. But the queen has her measure, saying Montespan does nothing without forethought. She hopes Pascal was not swayed: he looks outraged. Of course, the king must be informed and they will do it together. The word from a man of God cannot be dismissed.

We are now in Cassel’s nice new apartments, with groans and yells coming from behind the doors. It is not a happy time. Sophie tries to fight him but he has his horrible disgusting way. UGH.

And so to the next day, and we see silks and materials displayed in a salon, with the Chevalier posing by a table with a massive wooden box within which contain his drugs for sale……..

In walks Liselotte, and Montespan calls her ‘your Highness’ (which is incorrect) and does not curtsy (again, a terrible breach of etiquette) and Montespan slides her arm through Liselotte’s and they drift towards the table where the Chevalier is all “can I interest you in some silks?” like some kind of common trader and not the actual war hero and prince of the blood, related to royalty that he is. YeahNOPE. She opens the drug box and asks if it is fragrance and Montespan jumps in with “packing fragrance. To perfume the fabrics is all,” so we totally know she is in on the drug thing. Liselotte thinks they are all very weird  (sames, Madame). Sophie enters the salon and makes her way over to Gaston, who is all pleasant and smiling. She wants to know of this friend of his who offers ‘marriage advice.’ Right on, Sophie. About bloody time.

And so to Louis’ rooms with the queen, Father Pascal and Bossuet and we all know how this is going to go down. Montespan has lost her child so “what qualifies you to speak to her state of mind or her motives?” While Louis is right, we all KNOW she did not give a crap about that baby. Louis saw that first hand. But he is blinded by… I dunno. His royal sword? The fact that his circle of trusted people is shrinking? Montespan’s devotion and loyalty that is getting kinda obsessive now? Pure stubbornness at having the church tell him who he shouldn’t shag? The queen assures Louis that Montespan’s motives were licentious and he says to leave the matter with him.

Claudine returns home, to a dozing-by-the-fire Marchal and it is rather sweet that he can relax enough in her home to actually fall asleep. She gently touches his cheek and suddenly she’s on her back on the floor. “Is that how you seduce all the women?” she gets out, and he suddenly smiles. “Did it work?” Claudine touches his hair, his face, murmurs, “you are still here. I like that,” and then kisses him and there are a few moments of nice snogging and squeezing of hands. YAY!!!!! (Stop it. Stop investing in this. You know it will all turn to shit. UGH)

Back inside the palace with the maid Odile walking through the servant corridors, and Gaston grabs her, creepily says, “We have so much catching up to do,” and we all know what that means.

Louis confronts Montespan, who is kneeling oh-so-innocently on the bed. Of course, she says her hand ‘accidentally’ fell into the priest’s crotch, saying his hands “wandered in the most intrusive way.” She didn’t mention it before, because she felt sorry for him. Then she subtly plants the little seed in Louis’ mind that good Father Pascal has the hots for the queen. Louis takes the bait and storms in to see the queen. Good Lord, Louis, this is NOT who you are and this is NOT a soap opera. It is beneath the king to get involved in these little dramas. The queen asks why does he listen to ‘that woman’. And Louis demands to know “Why do you hate her so?” SRSLY, Louis????
The Queen: Is it wrong to hate the woman who’s poisoned and twisted my husband’s mind?
Louis: At least you admit hatred was your motivation!
The queen: (suddenly screams) YOU ARE PUTTING ME THROUGH HELL!
Louis: (walking out) The flames will do wonders for the ice around your heart!

Oh, dear. While the drama queen inside me is rather enjoying this dialogue, it is not AT ALL how I imagine they would act.

The next day and we see Bontemps walking, watching Montespan casually strolling along with flowers, then enter Louis’ rooms and some hair touching before the doors are closed. Bontemps knows Montespan still has her claws in his king. And he is worried.

Sophie is in the village, visiting Agathe, and the code words are “Ariadne sent me.” Now, while the subtitles say “Ariene” I think this is incorrect.  In Greek mythology Ariadne was the daughter of Minos (King of Crete and Son of Zeus) and queen Pasiphaë. She is the goddess of, amongst a few things, mazes, paths, fertility, labyrinths and passion. But mainly mazes and labyrinths: her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where reparation sacrifices were made to the gods. This is significant because Agathe’s cards turned up the maze card, the first ep is actually called “the labyrinth” and we shall also see it referenced in a forthcoming ep. Plus Agathe supplies drugs and poisons for all sorts of things, including passion.

So in we go to see Agathe, who says Sophie’s husband is sick then holds up two vials and goes on a bit cryptically about what Sophie wants: “A slow treatment which may cause discomfort over a period of time. Or a rapid remedy, with instant effect.” So – death or suffering. One guess as to what Sophie choses, even though she does seem to be in conflict about it. But as we know, a sudden death will bring her under suspicion, given the current climate in the palace.

Philippe strides through his rooms with his armour on, stands in front of the mirror as servants fuss. The Chevalier lounges on the bed in his nightshirt and he is either coming down or is still drunk from the looks of it, and it pains me a lot to see him reduced in this way. “Why does the king get to declare war and I don’t? Why can’t I do that?” Meanwhile, Philippe says nothing as the servants still fuss and the Chevalier rolls from the bed. “In fact, you know, I think I will. I will declare war on someone. Today.” He clicks his fingers and the servants leave as Philippe unbuttons his jacket, still in front of the mirror. He slides his arms around Philippe, head on his shoulder and stares at their reflection. “You can’t go,” he says softly. “I forbid it.” Philippe watches him, then says, “I don’t care.”
The Chevalier: (smiles) Very well. Then I shall come with you. (picks up a vial) You can’t stop me.
Philippe: If you want to come to war- (takes the vial from him) -you can’t bring this.
The Chevalier: ….regrettably then, I will remain. Anyway, you know my opinion on mud and tulips. (sits perkily on the bed, sounding nonchalant) I shall stay here. Keep the bed warm.
Philippe: Spend my money.
The Chevalier (looking a little smug) Fortunately, you can stop worrying about that. For I have come into an inheritance. My Uncle Hugues… miserable bugger. (slides his hands up Philippe’s coat) The only time I saw him smile was when his wife fell off a horse.
Philippe (finally smiling): You will miss him terribly, I suppose.
The Chevalier (tosses Philippe across the bed): Not as much as I will miss you, darling.

And they go in for a kiss and GODDAMMIT BONTEMPS FFS! ANOTHER COCKBLOCK! But okay, I will forgive him this time because there is something quite wrong and Philippe knows it.

Next scene and Philippe sits alone with Bontemps, who is in a bit of state but trying not to show it. “He once commanded me to tell him… should the situation ever arise, if a woman ever tilt his mind in matters of state-” Philippe wants to know if it is she who must not be named who affects him so. But Bontemps knows. “Ever since he has chosen Madame, her needs are plenty and his time is finite.” Oh, dear Bontemps. He is distraught but holding on to calm. “He will not listen to me. As his valet….” it is here his voice cracks and we see the tears, “-I have no voice.”

We are now in Louis’ room, he is in a chair by the fire (and so it is most likely March/April because of the mention of Easter and the fact that fires are still being lit) with an empty wine glass. Bontemps walks in and Louis tells him to come and have a drink. Sleep would be better. But kings do not sleep, Louis replies. “The wise ones do,” Bontemps says. “I have seen you sleep.” When Louis says nothing, Bontemps adds, “I must speak my mind, Sire.” Louis: “these are not the words of a valet.” (UGH. He is much more than that, you stubborn thing)
Bontemps: No, Sire. They are the words of a friend.
Louis: Then I do not wish to hear them.
Bontemps: I anticipated that, Sire. So I have given my words to another.

Then he calls Philippe in and Louis looks shocked, as well he should be because this is highly irregular. Bontemps stands ahead of Philippe and Louis is all “my brother and my valet are plotting against me, is that it?” and OMG Louis you have it so FUCKING wrong! Then Philippe speaks, and it is Bontemps words that he recites, as the valet stands there, looking at Louis: “Not long ago, you looked me in the eye and said ‘if any woman would influence me in matters of state, you will tell me and by the morning she will be gone.'” And Louis talks over him once, then the next time is yelling, “I said THAT IS ENOUGH!” is about to storm out, then pauses, accusing Bontemps of it being his idea. “It was mine,” Philippe says quietly, to which Louis yells, “You? You don’t care enough!” And finally Bontemps says, yes, it was his idea, and Louis looks at him and says sarcastically, “friend.” When Bontemps makes a step to him, Louis gives him the eye and replies tightly, “leave.” Bontemps can hardly believe it and NEITHER CAN I WTAF and then he is gone and Philippe is giving him this look with a tiny nod as if to say, “right, well, we tried but it is clear you are a fucking idiot,” and then leaves too, while Louis is all ‘UGGGGH face, I have so much stress’ and it is so difficult to feel any sympathy for him. I mean, the man JUST SAID Bontemps should do exactly what he did, and now he is punishing him for it?

Right. Next day and the camera pans from the gardens to Montespan’s room. It is not yet nine and yet she commands a bumper of wine, to which Scarron is disapproving. Montespan knows she has made an enemy of the queen and is plotting against her. Plotting? Scarron says that seems “far beyond her character.” Neither does she believe father Pascal is the bad guy. Montespan replies tartly: “Sometimes, Françoise, you are so naive, I wonder if it is just an elaborate joke you are playing on us all.” Scarron finds that amusing.

Louis walks into one of his rooms and hears Louvois and Colbert talking….. Colbert saying “the nobles come here to play, not to work.” Louis approaches the door and eavesdrops. And of course, as the saying goes, one does not hear anything nice when one eavesdrops. Colbert doesn’t want his ‘young, impressionable’ niece to be at Versailles. Lately, he is finding the palace to be a “den of depravity… most unsuitable.” Then Colbert asks if they will win, meaning the war, and Louvois says yes, but he was surprised that Louis chose to stay at home. “As glorious as he is,” says Colbert, “on the battlefield he is NOT his brother.” Louvois agrees: “he prefers to confront his adversaries closer to home.” And finally as Louis steps away, his expression going from shock to deep thought, Colbert says, “Where is the glory in that?”

We’re now outside and Philippe is practicing his fighting skills and it is lovely to watch two men in breeches and frilly shirts wield swords. There is a certain elegance and poetry to it. Louis turns up and I totally know what is gonna happen. Yep, Philippe approaches, all in good spirits, but then Louis is all solemn and “You’re not going,” and his happy little face just drops. NOOOO. “Kings must lead. They do not follow. I am called by a higher purpose to command my armies myself. It is I who must go. You are to remain here.” He starts to walk away but Philippe is FURIOUS (as he should be) and yells “Is that IT? No apology or NOTHING?!” and grabs Louis. Quickly, his guards reach for their swords, Philippe’s own soldiers walking slowly to them as Louis says “I cannot stay here! Any longer!” Philippe wants to go with, practically begs Louis to let him go with him. But Louis says, “I need you here while I am gone. Who knows… perhaps in war I will find some peace.” He puts a hand on Philippe’s shoulder, saying he will fight the war in Holland, but beseeches Philippe to “please, brother. Fight the war here.” Then Louis puts a hand to his brother’s cheek, says “I am sorry, Philippe. Destiny calls us to a greater mission.” And wow, that is so……. sad and yet beautiful. Because he apologised, he acknowledged Philippe’s frustration, and that little touch on the cheek, his hair, then his shoulder. It really does appear that Louis is sad and regretful for raining all over Philippe’s war parade. And even now, Philippe still needs his brother’s approval and love.

Back in the war room, where Louis strides in to announce that he will be leading the war. “Great news, Sire,” Colbert says, and Louis replies sarcastically, “Your loyalty gives me great comfort.” And now, the question of Regent – the one who will rule in lieu of the king, until he comes back.

Gaston is ass-kissing Montespan and apparently he owes her an apology. They also have a mutual friend, Agathe, and then Gaston offers his help, to which Montespan acts all innocent. Then in the next moment, she is mentioning Father Pascal and I suspect I know what is going to happen now, especially when she says, “perhaps we should take a turn in the garden. I hear the lilies are in bloom.” The camera pans out over the Fountain of Apollo, then the lilies and then a gloved hand picks one, and another hand sprinkles red powder in the centre.

We now see Father Pascal alone in the chapel, and Gaston slithers in, spinning a yarn about needing a ‘most sensitive’ letter written, so Pascal sets about writing what appears to be a confessional love letter to the queen, then Gaston gives him a lily to include. Pascal sniffs the lily (as you do), and it is curtains for the poor priest. He bleeds from the nose, collapses and dies.

Scarron is praying in a small chapel/salon thingy, and Louis walks in. “I admire your devotion,” Louis says. Will she pray for him when he goes to war? Oh, but she prays for him every day. Then she stands and leaves.

Now we’re in Philippe’s rooms and he is looking totally bored, ankles crossed and feet up on a table, pushing things off the edge with his sword point.
Liselotte: (a bit exasperated) I wish I could be of more comfort.
Philippe: (sullenly) I don’t need comfort. I need another brother.
Liselotte: What will you do?
Philippe: What I always do. Nothing. And he knows it.
Liselotte: Do you want me to say what I think or what you want to hear? (Philippe side eyes) I think you are behaving like a child who always wants the toys other children have. (walks to him) Instead of sulking because your brother is king, you should be a king in your own right. He has an empire… why can’t you build an empire? He has a dynasty… why can’t you build a dynasty? (looks down at him) You’re my king.

Philippe slowly stands, weighing her words as he wavers his blade to her throat…. she steps back, a little unsure. He has a determined look about him, tosses the sword aside then lifts her forcefully onto the bed. She gasps, then in a flurry hoiks up her skirts, he fumbles with his breeches and his “cannon breeches her walls”. She is shocked (obvs, she is still a virgin) and there is much coitus movements as Philippe remains standing.

What is this crap?

A little later, the Chevalier cheerfully enters the room with some wool and sounding very much like the Gay Best Friend and that is so not right. Liselotte is sat up in bed, the sheets to her bosom and the Chevalier turns, spots her then says suggestively, “shall I come back later?” A muffled Philippe says from under the sheets, “Good idea.” and the Chevalier’s face drops like a ten tonne bag of crap. He walks to the bed, yanks off the covers and there is Philippe, naked except for a strategically placed sheet.

“Oh. I see,” says the Chevalier. OH, INDEED. “And here I was, looking for someone to declare war on… when the answer was right under my nose.”

Yes, you should be looking pissed off, Philippe. >>> THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

Then the Chevalier turns and walks out the room, Philippe makes a groany UGH sound and lays back on the bed.  YES, PHILIPPE. THIS IS ME. (Well, except for the copious amount of nudity and the glorious bed). Why is the Chevalier Liselotte’s new Gay Best Friend? Why is he so very angry that Philippe is doing his dynastic duty? Why did they suddenly have Philippe overcome with lust/passion/a boner and jump his wife, one who was not previously appealing to him because she was not a man? Why are they making the Chevalier out to be some kind of raging jealous drama queen towards every single person Philippe pays attention to?

Let’s move on to something that makes slightly more sense. Louis. YES, Louis WILL SAVE US. And here he is, reading out an edict that… hang on… wait…. he is placing the Regency of France in the hands of THE QUEEN??!!!

WAT. Oh, for fu——

So he signs the edict and the briefest of smiles appear on the queen’s lips, he stands and it is done. He takes her hand, saying he can rely on her to follow in his mother’s footsteps to do the same. Ugh. She is smug. Because we all know what this means – prayer, prayer and more prayer. And absolutely not fun, whatsoever.

Quick. Take me to the salons! Ahhhh, there is Colbert, accompanying his pretty, naive niece Isabelle for whom Versailles appears to no longer be a den of iniquity. And who should appear to offer his services as a guide but the Chevalier de Lorraine. “I assure you, she is in safe hands,” he says to Colbert, then leads her off through the salons. Philippe appears and I am pretty sure she should be curtsying deeper and longer than that little sad offering she makes, but apparently etiquette has flown out the window when the soap opera charged in through the door. “I trust I shall see you later,” Philippe says, and the Chevalier replies flippantly, “who knows? Isabelle and I have a very busy day ahead of us,” and he sweeps off.

It is all very weird, the way the Chevalier cares not one whit for protocol and manners – no bowing in public, plus turning his back on Philippe who is a prince of France. Just…. these tiny things would be no trouble to add, to make it more realistic. Like the armchair issue.

Right. Back to Claudine… Claudine who appears to be the only sensible one here. She is mixing a potion, still trying to work out what the mystery poison is. Then she finds a drawing in a book and bingo, that is a victory look if ever I saw one. Now she is in Paris, asking a dealer for seeds, and he says he has none, but still hands her a necklace of red beads. She pays him then starts to leave, but her way is blocked by a bunch of junkie dudes and then creepy father Etienne charges in to save her. This is SO not going to turn out well because a) I know where this is leading ever since ‘babies’ ‘orphanage’ and ‘kind father’ was mentioned in the same breath, and b) that creepy creepy face.

We are back in the chapel, with father Pascal swinging from a rope (wat? How did he get up there?) and Bossuet hands the queen the supposed suicide note written in his hand which we all know was dictated by Gaston.

While Montespan creeps from a window, Louis and the queen walk in the garden, Louis offering condolences and the queen not believing Father Pascal would take his own life. He counsels her to be strong in his absence, trust her advisors, hide her true feelings.

Night has fallen, and Louis is in Montespan’s bed, trying to sleep. She is teary and wants to go with him to war. Does she fear the queen as regent? “Right now, Sire, I fear everything I have ever dreamed of.” He gently strokes her hair, assuring no harm will come to her. But Montespan is turning it up, saying he cannot see how strong the queen is. “She knows the place you have in my heart and will do anything she can to come between us.” Louis again assures her the queen will rule on his behalf, not her own. But Montespan is getting a bit distraught and ranty and Louis finally yells, “enough!” He is so up to here with everything, exhausted, and cannot remember the last time he slept. So Montespan gets a vial, saying the herbs will help. She takes a swing, Louis does too and she falls into sleep. Louis of course, remains fully awake.

A note is shoved under Sophie’s door. It is a letter from Thomas the traitor and she sneaks out to meet him in a darkened servant’s passage. Tomorrow he leaves for war and needed to say goodbye. They briefly kiss, then he edges her up against the wall and the camera cuts away but we all know the kind of send off he’s getting. At least Sophie is finding some kind of romance. She deserves it.

Louis is still wide awake, heavy breathing and sweating. He sits up in bed, and the next shot is Bontemps charging into Philippe’s bedroom (no, he is not alone but I cannot tell who it is. Pretty sure it is Liselotte). We see Louis cutting his finger, drawing blood across a plan of the gardens, and muttering “I am lost… and now I’m found” under his breath as the blood drops on the parchment. Clearly in a delirium and quite likely from the herbs that Agathe gave to Montespan. His bloody finger traces the pathways on the garden map as he keeps muttering, and Philippe and Bontemps walk in, worried. Louis keeps painting the bloody pattern and the camera pans up, above him, to show the map with his blood drawing, then further up, out of the room, then out of the palace, finally showing us the gardens and palace. Mirroring the same map Louis was bleeding over, but from this one from a birds eye view.

And there ends the ep. Merci for reading!

21 thoughts on “Versailles Season 2, Episode 5 – the one with the dead priest

  1. P^2


    Did anybody else but me notice that Philippe apparently can bang a woman just fine if he is sufficiently annoyed? Remember the scene with Henriette and the flower arranging last season? Now, Liselotte tells him something that appears to put him in a snit, he’s pointing a sword at her, then he pushes her back roughly and bangs her. It’s like sex is a weapon when it comes to women with Philippe and I don t like that. I know it’s the 17th century and men did as they liked, but the real Philippe probably never did that. It was hard enough for the poor guy to get the job done as it was. They should have just gone with his strategically placed chaplets. It would have been a much better story. And what’s up with the lingering in bed afterwards? The deed was done, so I doubt Philippe would have hung around for a cuddle with Liselotte. I doubt he was in the ring for more than one round as well. Not buying it.

    I’m not even going to comment on the Chevalier. Holy cow… a jealous, whiny, pissy little drug dealer. It’s just killing me. I loved last season’s sassy Chevalier. You could see Philippe being totally attracted to that! This season? Meh…Mind you, I’m not talking about the actors.) The scene about the Chevalier choosing the bottle over Philippe…really?????

    Now Louis is a basket case. It’s true he was paranoid (smart man), but in this series he should be in therapy. It just keeps going downhill.

    I can’t wait to see what the ratings are for this season against the last. I bet they will be lower. They had the magic recipe. Why change it????

    1. B.

      I wonder that too, because The Affair of Poisons was certainly interesting enough without going through the trouble of changing characters to be 360 degrees different from how they really were.

      1. JulesHarper Post author

        Hi B! I will add it in an upcoming review, but I’ll also say it here – they have literally crammed 10 years worth of history into 10 episodes. The poison thing went on over years. Babies were born and children grew up in that time. :/

        1. P^2

          Agreed. That makes me wonder if season 3 will be the last. I expect that one will cover Louis’s marriage to Maintenon as she is already present here in season 2. After that, there is not much more to cover, at least for Louis XIV. This series is apparently really expensive to produce, so perhaps that is the plan, I don’t know.

        2. B.

          Yes, and that’s why its baffling that they chose to do it the way they did. That was not a little matter. Hundreds of nobles were involved, including Louis’ mistress, Madame Montespan. They could have dragged this out more instead of dumping it like they did, it really was interesting, like House of Cards 17th Century Edition. Its just funny to me that they condensed it and at the same time made the war a footnote by comparison in the attention it got. I hate that they are cramming decades worth into such a short time. I get that they want to “strike while the iron is hot” with Versailles, but I would dare to say most of us watching are also lovers of history.

          By the way, I also a WTF moment when he made Marie-Therese Regent. I can’t wait for more of your commentary.

    2. JulesHarper Post author

      I totally made that point in S1 about Philippe and the girl shagging. He only seems to choose them when he has had an argument with Louis or is angry. Henriette (just had a blue with Louis), the servant girl (just had an argument with the Chevalier), and then Louise (anger at Louis, wants desperately to get back at his brother and take what is his). And yes, now with Liselotte.

      1. JulesHarper Post author

        Hi Linda!
        Marie-Thérèse was called d’Autriche – “of Austria” – and not of Spain, because the French didn’t differentiate between the Austrian Habsburgs and the Spanish Habsburgs. It was the same for Anne.

  2. P^2

    Yes, I see that you did make that point already. (I had forgotten about that post. I was caught up in the moment. Sorry!)

    I just think it’s odd that they chose that road for Philippe to go down as they probably made him less effeminate specifically for the benefit of the female audience. That being said, I really did not expect to see a repeat of that scene in season 2. That likely won’t sit well with a lot of women. Perhaps they want to generate the chatter. Still, it’s an odd choice in my opinion.

  3. arlette

    Hi ! I love your reviews . I thought I was the only one getting more and more annoyed with Philippe and Chevalier. I ‘ve already seen episode 6,7 and 8 and for those who haven’t let me just say it’s getting worst. Alexander Vlahos and Evan Williams are good actors , but Philippe and Chevalier are now completely OOC . Versailles has become a kind of fanfiction whose only purpose is to satisfy female audience. There’s already a community of fans writting fanfics about Chevalier and Philippe. There ‘s nothing wrong with love stories , but I am sad because despite their flaws Louis , Philippe, Chevalier and Montespan were extraordinary characters who deserved a better treatment than Versailles.

    Thanks and sorry for the mistakes. I’m french and I love History, so you understand why Versailles makes me roll my eyes.

    1. B.

      I can only imagine how you feel being French and this being part of your country’s history. I’m American and the way they are cramming the years together is annoying in itself, but not writing the characters as they were historically is also VERY annoying. I originally thought this series would be more like The Tudors and written to history with a little extra dramatization for the screen. Louis is even being written out of character, IMO. I don’t know a lot about the Sun King, in fact, its been years since I’ve studied him, but he was completely unhinged in episodes this season. If he had of met William III in the state he met him in, in episode 7(?), I think William would have considered the war won.

  4. Tess

    For me it was the episode of Monsieur and Bontemps. Both had great scenes, together and separately. So sad to see Philippe once again with a broken heart and destroyed dreams. All the more so we know that was how probably looked his whole life. And Alex stole my heart again, it is already a recidivism.
    Bontemps… He had ‘his episode’ in season 1 (when his son died), this time he was even more touching and heartbreaking. Bravo, Stuart Bowman! Maybe this valet has no voice, but has a glorious soul.

    PS. You have the advantage because you have seen the whole season and you know how the Fabien/Claudine’s “relationship” ends. So far, I have the same silent hopes and bad feelings as you. Is it possible that Fabien must have a broken heart every season?…
    Do not tell me, of course 😉

    Merci for writing!

  5. E J Frost

    Excellent review. I’ve stopped watching “Versaille” (although I think I’ll keep reading your reviews — great comedic value). You have it exactly right: why keep investing in characters I know are going to get thrown away?

    The staging of the scene in which Philippe acts as Bontemps’ “voice” is brilliant. But it is worth watching the rest of the episode for that moment? It didn’t feel like it to me. The characterization of the Chevallier is so beyond annoying, I want to fast-forward every scene he’s in. I can hear my own teeth grate every time there’s a scene with Montespan sitting in a chair with arms. The showrunners had a real opportunity with Cassell to do something interesting. There are glimmers of humanity in his early interactions with Sophie. What if instead of gratuitous creepiness and repetitive rape scenes, they had him genuinely try to be a good husband, only to have her rebuff him in favour of a younger, more handsome man? Wouldn’t that actually say something interesting about the court’s obsession with beauty over goodness? I can’t help feeling they missed a trick there, in order to make a semi-likeable character’s decision to commit slow murder seem justified. It also makes me want to fast-forward every scene Sophie is in.

    So that’s more than half the episode I’m now fast-forwarding through. The only scenes I’m really interested in watching are those with Marchal and Claudine (and we all know where that’s going). I’m looking forward to your next review, but sadly, not the next episode. 🙁

  6. Magda

    Hi, I’m so impressed by the fact you want to take this trouble summarizing each episode in such detail! Not being a native speaker of English I find it challenging to grasp all the dialogues’ subtleties. Your reviews are of great help to me. Thanks!

  7. Susan

    I know everyone is going on about Philippe and Chevallier and Liselotte but people were bisexual back then too so he could have enjoyed himself either way. That could be why Mr. Ratface Chevallier who is constantly pushing Philippe to do all the wrong things ( granted he could choose not to but he doesn’t have the greatest support system until Liselotte comes to town ) is so jealous. He oozes with jealously. I am waiting for him to do something really outrageous like he did in Season One and get thrown in prison or get his head chopped off . Especially if and when Liselotte gets pregnant. That will really blow his mind. Speaking of minds Louis seems to be really losing his. Guess we who haven’t seen all the rest of the episodes will just have to wait to see what happens. There are a lot of loyal viewers out there like me who really love like the show and look forward to each episode to see what is going to happen next. The actors are fantastic, the clothes are so beautiful and the sets and scenery I just don’t have words enough to say how beautiful they are. You have given us such a wonderful piece of history in a beautiful and entertaining way with very talented people . Thank you.

    1. JulesHarper Post author

      Susan, I don’t think they are going to divert from history so much as to kill off historical figures, for example 🙂 But having said that, there are A LOT of people that were present during this time that they never mention at all – Moliere, Marquis d’Effiat, any of the Mancinis (WHYYYYY??? Especially Hortense and Marie who are the scandal of the century in France and feature in the Mercure Galant pretty much non-stop!!! *sobs* I have a whole story thread in my brain about Hortense and her female lovers and abusive husband, her daring escape, wearing disguises and her and Marie running away from Rome in the middle of the night….)

      Love the costumes and scenery. I always pause the scenes, just so I can see the glorious settings, because the scenes are so quick they never linger long enough.

  8. Tracy

    Just wanted to thank you for your post. I miss some of the subtleties you point out. Also, some of the scenes you describe seem to be cut from the version I am watching, and that helps to bring the story plot together.

  9. Berengaria

    It was rather funny to see Liselotte looking anxious because the Chevalier found her in bed with her husband, lol. It would usually be the other way around, the husband would be horrified at being caught by his wife in bed with a lover. Rather topsy-turvy world. I feel they’ve completely changed Cassel’s chatracter. I had a sneaking admiration for him in the 1st series and now he’s turned into a drunk and a rapist. Kind of weird how they’ve made him into a total villain.


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